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Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 | 2 comments

Free Stuff Around Every Corner

Free Stuff Around Every Corner

I’m always amazed by the amount of free stuff you can find in your neighborhood. No, I don’t troll the streets of Del Ray rummaging through the trash, I usually just stumble upon things sitting on the curb practically screaming “take me home! fix me!” It’s great when you want to try out a new DIY project but don’t want to risk messing up something valuable.

Like this chair I saw while walking my son to school. It needed a new seat, but otherwise was stable. I had seen a chair made from old belts and knew this would be perfect for that project. And it was.

IMG_5619   IMG_5636

Or these lovely dining chairs I found in the alley (Leslie sent me a tip earlier in the day that they were there). Again, in great condition, just needed a new seat.

chairs before

A reader sent in the story of her metal pail turned garden hose organizer, found in the garbage as well.

metal pail hose holder

Nature is also a great source of free stuff. Leslie had wanted to make a tree stump table for a long time, just couldn’t find the right stump. But here was one we found while out on another errand.

tree stump on side of road

But if you feel awkward picking up someone else’s trash, there’s another resource which is just as great — Freecycle. On this website you can search or browse for stuff that is, of course, free! You get what you pay for (nothing) but many times people will post brand new items they bought by mistake or can’t return.

The paper and markers for my son’s artwork were brand new.

art supplies from freecycle

We also got vinyl lunch boxes my 2-year-old uses to carry around books and toys.

lunchbox from freecycle

He also loves the sounds the printer on this calculator makes (note to self: put paper in his stocking this Christmas).

calculator from freecycle

This credit card swiping machine comes in handy when the kids play “store” or “library.”

credit card machine from freecycle

These old salty bookends fit in perfectly in the bay window in my house. One is chipped, but that’s just par for the course. The Spanish-English dictionary was also a Freecycle find — practically in mint condition and very helpful for deciphering my son’s Spanish homework.

bookends from freecyle

And these old maps came in handy for making an upcycled basket.

Upcycled Map Basket

If you want to find something specific, you can also make a “wanted” post on Freecycle. I did this with the mason jars I needed to make my Halloween luminaries. And best of all, the person who responded to my request actually delivered them to my house. Bingo!

mason jar luminaries

Freecycle doesn’t always work smoothly though. I’ve lost out on many items because there were people who responded before me. I’ve also picked up furniture that just didn’t work in my small space when I got it home — back onto Freecycle it went!

Finally, there’s a free section on Craig’s List and I’m always seeing curb alerts and offers for free stuff on the many Del Ray listserves: Del Ray Citizens, Old Town Moms, Del Ray Parents, etc. Just gotta keep your eyes open and get ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.

So to all of you who use Freecycle or post curb alerts on the listserves, thank you! The DIYers of the world can’t wait for the next find.

Posted by Katie


  1. Great article- it’s always fun and useful to get free stuff. I found some potted fall mums on the curb near my house- someone was throwing out perfectly fine flowers! I adopted them and they’re doing fine and will rebloom next year. I’ve had lots of success on freecycle as well. I hope more people take advantage of it.

    • That IS a great find! Hope they rebloom next year too. I’ve saved a lot of money just checking Freecycle for stuff for the kids. They don’t care if it’s used or not. I love coming home with little surprises.

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